By the time 12th grade rolled around, I had a healthy skepticism regarding inspiration. It always seemed to me that I would get inspired, take on some kabbalah, and several weeks later be out of motivation, and often puzzled about why I had thought it was a good idea in the first place.
That’s the thing about inspirational events. By appealing to your emotion, they circumvent the rational side of your brain. You forget all the logical reasons you had for doing things differently. You become passionate about this golden new way of doing things. You know it’s going to change your life.
Then you go home and real life kicks in. You realize there were reasons you did things differently. Now you can remember them, but you can’t bring them up with the inspirational speaker, for practical tips. The speaker is miles away.
Which may be one reason I eventually gave up on chasing inspiration. I have a more pragmatic approach to self-improvement these days. I don’t want to be left shiny-eyed by a beautiful concept. I want practical, sensible reasons, and then a step-by-step plan toward achievement.
Here is Kaylie evaluating an inspirational event.
I didn’t have very much “school spirit” in high school. I only participated in after-school events because my friends would be there. Shabbaton was the worst. Three days of constant socialization and school activities.
Every year I said I wouldn’t go and every year my parents told me I had to. The same thing happened in eleventh grade. My friend and I decided not to go but ended up going anyway.
The speaker they brought that year was everyone’s favorite. She gave a rousing speech about bein adam l’chavero and being friends with everyone, even girls who are a little different than you are.
That night my friend and I sat where no one would find us. We didn’t really want to be part of the class discussions. As it turns out, that was a great decision.
As we heard afterwards, our class sat in a circle and had a discussion. They spoke about being more b’achdus as a grade. The quieter girls spoke about what it’s like to not be heard in conversations.
Apparently, everyone cried.
When we got back they told us about the conversation. Faces shining, they said, “Everything is going to be different. Our grade is going to be so friendly and b’achdus!”
We were pretty skeptical about the whole thing.
We ended up being right. When we got back to school, nothing had changed. No one made any new friends. And we didn’t all sit together as a class.
Story submitted by Kaylie.